Last weekend, fishermen all over Wisconsin got out on the water for opening day. Traditionally, the first Saturday in May is the first day for many fishing seasons like trout, walleye and bass. Governor Scott Walker caught two walleye at the annual Governor’s Fishing Opener hosted by the Wisconsin Indianhead Country Association on Lake Namakogan. That evening, they held their annual banquet where people got together to eat and swap fishing stories that bordered on tall tales.
Fishing is highly beneficial to our state economically and environmentally. With over 15,000 inland lakes, many residents and anglers from out of state come to Wisconsin for our abundant fishing. According to a recent report from the Department of Natural Resources, anglers spend about $445 million in Wisconsin annually.
In addition to the financial benefits to local economies, the money spent on licenses goes into the Fish and Wildlife Account. DNR uses that money for management, enforcement and conservation. This means that anyone who buys a license directly helps efforts to restock lakes, manage fisheries and restore water quality.
Here are a couple of tips to ensure you have a fun and successful fishing experience. Before you go out to bag that trophy muskie or walleye, it is important to do your research on the bodies of water and the type of fish you are after. Some lakes have specific regulations that are different from other lakes. For example, there is a season for lake sturgeon in September on Lake Wissota, but on Long Lake there is no fishing season for lake sturgeon. There are a variety of fish in our waters, but not every body of water holds the same species. If you are looking for muskie, you will not find them in every single lake in Wisconsin. On the other hand, you might find a lot of pan fish in the majority of state water bodies.
As summer rolls around, more people are participating in recreational activities outdoors, so make sure you are being safe and mindful of others. Wisconsin law requires that there must be at least one lifejacket on board for every person in the boat. Every year, the legislature and the DNR agree on new rules and fee changes, which is why there is a yearly edition of the fishing regulations. The fishing regulation pamphlets are available online as well as at local businesses and DNR Service Centers, so you can pick them up and keep a copy with you out on the boat.
Not sure if you’d like fishing? Never had a chance to learn? Take advantage of the free fishing weekend coming up on June 3rd and 4th to try the recreational sport out with a friend. Even if you don’t catch anything, you will be outdoors and enjoying the beautiful woods, lakes, and rivers that Wisconsin has to offer. A day out on the water is almost always time well spent.
I hope that your first time out this year is just as successful as the Governor’s. If not, you have all summer to get out there and enjoy a popular pastime in our great state. Hope to see you out on the water!
Please visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/ to apply for fishing licenses and to read up further on regulations.